Several photogravures from the Astra Velum series were juried in to the Alternative Processes show at SoHo Photo, in New York City. Geoffrey Berliner, Executive Director and co-developer of the Penumbra Foundation, was juror for the show.
After viewing the show, Roger Thompson, senior editor of Don’t Take Pictures, had this to say about my work:
Liedtke’s portraits demanded attention. Small photogravures, they’re portraits of young faces that manage to both yearn outward and pull inward. I frankly can’t get the eyes of “Asia” out of my head. These are works where the process not simply supports the subject of the imagery, but animates it. The clarity, the intensity, and the sure lines of the features remind us that photogravure is not simply the process for the fantastical or ethereal as it seems to have become today (think the ParkeHarrisons), it also allows a measured precision and texture that is hard to replicate. It’s almost impossible to imagine a silver gelatin print representing the freckled skin of Fritz’s “York” with such complete richness and honesty. If Liedtke can pull a photogravure like “Asia” and “York,” one wonders how other artists might reclaim and remake lost processes, and the exhibition, like other process exhibitions, helps us imagine what all we’ve left behind when we turn toward contemporary printing.
Read the full article, and see other stunning images from other artists, here: http://www.donttakepictures.com/dtp-blog/2014/11/30/alternative-process-soho-photo
2014 was a busy year for art and artmaking. I started off the year teaching art in Italy for 3 months, and ended it painting murals in Guatemala.
Mural painting in Guatemala really was a new venture. I’ve painted, and I’ve photographed, but I’ve never taken one of my photographs, turned it into a mural design, and painted it 9 feet tall on a hospital wall. In Guatemala, I did this 7 times, sometimes 30 feet up in the air!
My friends and I were working in a children’s hospital in rural Guatemala. Children are brought there severely malnourished, and often with serious disabilities. (The girl featured above, Yolanda, was both severely malnourished, had Type 1 Diabetes, and is deaf and mute. But she’s also wonderful.) The amazing people at the Hope of Life Hospital nurse them back to health at no cost to the families, and send them home with education and food to help prevent further problems.
We wanted to create images that inspired hope, and created a welcoming environment, for these traumatized children and their parents. The results were surprising even to us, and everyone was very pleased.
While in Guatemala, I took an afternoon to drop in on my friends at La Fototeca. The work they do bringing top-notch photography to Guatemala City is really impressive. And their open-armed welcome made me feel like a rock star!
Thousands of photographers from China and oversea get together and participate in the show. More than 100 artists’ work are presented to the audience of Shanghai people and photographers from around the world. High Noon Fine Art presented five American artists’ portfolios: Debora Schwedhelm, Fritz Liedtke, Heidi Kirkpatrick, J. Scriba, and Susan Kae Grant.
The Haggerty Museum of Art is currently showing “Scrutiny After the Glimpse,” which includes two of my photogravure portraits from the Astra Velum series.
Depicting the human form has been a primary focus of artists since the beginning of recorded engagement. Looking at a portrait or figure painting has usually been thought to be an isolated occasion with a finite meaning. This exhibition of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture from the Haggerty’s permanent collection explores the potential of these objects to evince multiple meanings based on context and proximity to other works.
View the show at the Haggerty now through August 3, 2014, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Publishers Weekly today posted an interview with me about Skeleton in the Closet: “The Human Condition: PW Talks with Fritz Liedtke.” Back in March, Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, and included a writeup of it in their print magazine.
Fritz Liedtke’s Skeleton in the Closet collects portraits of people who have suffered from eating disorders, each of the photographs accompanied by writing from the subjects. The book earned a starred review from PW Select, with our reviewer calling it “by turns heart-wrenching and redemptive…artful and humanizing” and stating that Liedtke “[treats] each subject in a unique and sensitive fashion.” We spoke to Liedtke about the importance of going out of one’s way to publish difficult or unclassifiable subject matter, and the lasting connections between photographers and those they photograph.
LensCulture editor Jim Caspar today selected Astra Velum as an Editor’s Pick, and featured it on the front page of the site. If you’re not familiar with LensCulture.com, you probably should be. It’s one of the best places to explore contemporary fine art photography from around the world. Read articles, view portfolios, browse projects, and much more, all in an easy-to navigate and beautiful site. The Astra Velum feature can be found here: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/fritz-liedtke-astra-velum. Start there, and then explore the wide world of fine art photography!
This past year, I was approached by Wally Mason, chief curator at the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He loved the Astra Velum photogravures, and inquired about adding a few pieces to the Haggerty’s collection. I was impressed by Wally’s intimate knowledge of his own collection, and his desire to add pieces to it that fit well. I appreciated his desire to steward artwork–to care for and show it well, rather than just stick it in a vault. After some discussion, the museum selected 4 pieces, which were accessioned into their collection this past fall. You can view them here.
My friends at PhotoEye Gallery informed me recently that the Astra Velum Limited Edition Artist Book has passed the halfway mark. In fact, as of this writing, there are only 5 of the 25 editioned copies left. PhotoEye will have the book at FotoFest, as well as at their gallery and online bookstore. You can also purchase the book from me directly, from 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, and Panopticon Gallery in Boston. Order your copy today, and add it to your collection, before they’re all gone.
I was so very saddened this week to learn of the passing of dear friend and photographer, Jim Leisy. Jim was an anchor in the Portland photo community, someone who made things happen.
Jim and I spent a week in China together in November, at the Lishui Photo Festival. We had a great time exploring, photographing, and showing our own work at the festival. Above is a portrait I took of him at a lake outside of Lishui.
Full of good humor and kindness, he will be sorely missed.
A few months ago, I received an email from Yan Li, curator at High Noon Culture and Art in Beijing, China. I had met her briefly at PhotoLucida in March—and by briefly I mean I ran over to her table at the very end of the very last review session, gave her my collateral, and that was it.
So I was a little surprised when she emailed me several months later, inviting me and 9 other American photographers to show their work in November at the 2013 Lishui International Photography Festival in Lishui, China. I was eating lunch at a cheap teriyaki shop when I received the email, and immediately texted my wife, “Can I go to China in November?” She said yes.
So, here I am, flying from Hong Kong to Wenzhou, China, where I’ll be picked up and driven 2 hours to Lishui, China. Like me, you’ve heard of Portland, Oregon, and its 1 million residents, but you’ve never heard of Lishui, China, and its 2.6 million inhabitants. What immediately struck me in preparing for this trip was how little I actually knew of China and its geography. I couldn’t have told you where anything was on a map, Beijing or Tibet or Shanghai or Chengdu, or Lishui.
I’ve spent several days in Hong Kong with dear friends, and enjoyed my time immensely. They’ve also helped me brush up on a few key phrases in Mandarin (which I vaguely recalled from my time with them in Taiwan 15 years ago).
Aside from my Mandarin, it’s been hard to know how to prepare, or what to expect, in Lishui. We were told to show up on November 4, 2013. We were asked to bring 15 matted prints. And that’s it.
I’ve read blog posts by other American photographers invited in previous years. But that’s about all I have to go on.
So, I’m going to roll with the punches, and I’m expecting it to be an adventure.
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And an adventure it was. My time in Lishui was so full, I had no time to write updates. Now that the dust is settling, here’s a recap and a number of random thoughts on the week:
First, I had a great time with a bunch of great people. Going in to this trip, I was unsure about how the group dynamic between our contingent of 9 American photographers would be. (Heidi Kirkpatrick, Jim Leisy, Susan Kae Grant (and her husband Richard Klein), Clay Lipsky, Barbara Ciurej, Bill Vaccaro, Ryan Zoghlin, Fritz Liedtke, and curator Yan Li.) I needn’t have worried. We had a fantastic time together. Not only did we all like and respect each other as artists, but we had a lot of fun.
Next, the festival. This was the 2013 15th Lishui International Photography Festival. Finding detailed information online about the festival is pretty much impossible, even with Google Translate. As I mentioned before, we really knew nothing more than what to bring and where to land. Beyond that, we just took everything one step at a time. Our hotel wasn’t great, but sufficient. They plied and piled food on us meal after meal, far more than we could eat. The government paid for the whole thing, so we didn’t have to shell out a penny, except for drinking water (!), a tour, and souvenirs.
The festival itself is actually pretty incredible. It consists of the work of hundreds of photographers—some in collections of an individual photographers’ work (such as our exhibits), and some group shows curated by guest curators (such as the large show of photography books curated by Chiara Capodici and Fiorenza Pina of Little Big Press in Italy). According to an article in Lishui Today, “more than 150,000 works by photographers from 98 countries and regions were received, of which over 600 photographs were selected and exhibited.” It spanned perhaps a dozen venues, of which there were 4 major sites. Our particular site was an old oil pump factory. It was both awe-inspiringly beautiful and dumpy at the same time. Beautiful light filtered in to these old factory buildings, which were filled with photography. But the floors and walls were still covered with dirt and oil stains. An odd juxtaposition, something in China that you just get used to. In the 6 or so buildings at our site, one with 4 stories of work, there were hundreds of photographs and books on display.
Our group’s work was hung in a large building with high ceilings and clerestory windows. It turned out to be an excellent location for portraiture, of which I took full advantage. Here are some of my portraits of my fellow artists, and some local curators and photographers, at the factory:
On our last evening together, after a long day of sightseeing, Yan informed us that she had some good news. She told us that out of our group of 10 people, we had been given 4 major awards: Susan Kae Grant won an Award of Excellence, Barbara Ciurej (and her collaborator Lindsay Lochman, who wasn’t able to come) won a Grand Prize, I also won a Grand Prize for the Astra Velum series, and our curator Yan Li won a Curator’s Award. Out of 11 awards given to photographers, our little group walked away with 3 of them. (You have to understand that we didn’t know there were any awards at this festival. Like so much on this trip, we didn’t know anything about it until we were eating dinner at Pizza Hut on the last night, and Yan shared the good news with us.)
Our group had plenty of adventures together outside of the photo festival. From having tea with a celadon pottery master, to foot massages, to bus trips into the terraced rice paddies, we really enjoyed each other’s company. I also really enjoyed getting to know local Chinese people. Each day, our hotel was assigned 5 local university students to act as helpers/translators for the photo festival’s guests. When I travel, I most enjoy getting to know local people, customs, language, and culture. So I made it a point to talk with some of the students each day. They also became our translators, tour bookers, photography store locators, models, and friends. Clay Lipsky and I also met a number of Chinese curators and photographers at the exhibition. Everyone was very friendly; one photographer we’d just met was receiving an award at the Lishui Photography Museum; he asked us to pose in photos with him as he was given his award, and also gave several of us small prints as gifts.
Speaking of Chinese photographers, people in China like to take pictures of foreigners. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say I was photographed more during my week in Lishui than I had been in the previous 10 years combined. Aside from a few photos of us ending up in the local paper, I have no idea what those people will do with the images of us and our work. But it was fun to feel like a rock star for a week, autographs and all.
And while I’m speaking of autographs, let me offer a little advice to anyone reading this that is invited to future Lishui Photo Festivals:
- First of all, if you get invited, go. Go into it with a spirit of adventure.
- Also go with a generous attitude; make friends with your fellow photographers from near and far. Make sure no one feels left out.
- Bring cards to autograph and give away. People will LOVE this. Bring a Sharpie so you can sign your cards in front of people. Hand it to a Chinese person using both hands, which is a sign of respect.
- Buy/drink bottled water. Don’t get dehydrated.
- Bring a few gifts to give to other photographers, your curator, or new friends. A small print, or copies of your book, will suffice, and will make you a lifelong friend.
- Get a VPN (Virtual Private Network) client on your laptop and phone. This will allow you to access Facebook and other sites that the Chinese government blocks, and also keep your data more secure.
- Check your mobile phone plan and understand what your international data/text/phone plan is. Thankfully my carrier, Tmobile, just started offering free international texting and data, and cheap phone calls, so I didn’t feel at all hampered while abroad.
- Get a foot massage at a reputable masseuse. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in the States to give one like the Chinese do.
INTIMATE STORIES AND PORTRAITS REVEAL THE SECRET WORLD OF EATING DISORDERS
Artist Fritz Liedtke’s new book Skeleton in the Closet culminates an 8-year project
telling the stories of people struggling with anorexia and bulimia.
Portland, Oregon (October 22, 2013)— Artist and photographer Fritz Liedtke has published his new book, Skeleton in the Closet: Eating Disordered Lives, culminating eight years of listening to and photographing women and men with eating disorders, and shedding light on this secretive world.
In a society saturated with shallow, narrow definitions of beauty, eating disorders are an increasingly prevalent trend. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life….”
Movie stars, magazines, fad diets, internet porn, fashion models, MTV…the pressure to look thin and to be successful is an oppressive force that is difficult to resist. In lives that are spinning out of control, controlling what you eat can feel powerful—as can keeping it a secret.
Skeleton in the Closet’s intimate portraits of women and men struggling with the secrets of anorexia and bulimia is both fine art monograph and memoir. Through compelling photographs and personal stories, it reveals a first-person look inside the minds of those who live with and try to leave behind an eating disorder.
Artist Fritz Liedtke—who relates the story of his own struggle with anorexia in his introduction—has created an award-winning series that includes women and men of all ages and ethnicities. The book is prefaced with an essay by award-winning novelist Gina Ochsner, and offers insight and hope to anyone wanting to better understand eating disorders and the challenge of overcoming addiction.
Fritz Liedtke is a professional photographer and artist, whose award-winning work is regularly featured in magazines, and collected in to museum collections. His most recent book, Astra Velum, was published in 2012. Gina Ochsner’s novels and short stories have won the Flannery O’Connor Award and The Oregon Book Award, received NEA and Guggenheim grants, and been published in The New Yorker, Glimmertrain, and The Kenyon Review.
Skeleton in the Closet is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.
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